Davis Love III can redeem himself at the 2016 Ryder Cup when he’ll get his second chance to lead the American squad to a victory. Love will be the next captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, according to a report by Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte.
A spokesman for Love and the PGA of America told Golf Channel: “It is premature to discuss the U.S. Ryder Cup captaincy. We are not prepared to comment at this time.”
A formal announcement will be made February 24 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, at the PGA of America headquarters (which is good timing as most of the golf media will be in town since it’s the same week as the Honda Classic).
Love, who captained the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team, was selected after the 11-man Ryder Cup task force held multiple meetings, including a four-hour gathering two weeks ago in San Diego during the Farmers Insurance Open.
Love was part of the 11-man committee, but he wasn’t publicly considered a frontrunner for the job. The favorites to lead the 2016 American squad were Fred Couples, who went 3-0 as a Presidents Cup captain, and Paul Azinger, who guided the U.S. in 2008 to its only victory this century in the biennial matches against Europe.
Couples said last fall that he’s “not a PGA of America guy,” which seems clear with this announcement. Personally, I would’ve loved to see Couples captain the 2016 squad, as he’s had success in the past with the Presidents Cup (I know, I know, it’s not exactly on par with the Ryder Cup), and seems to get the most out of his players — largely because they respect and like Couples and want to play their best for him. Rosaforte reported that Couples “wasn’t popular among past captains.” He also said that Tom Lehman and Steve Stricker, both of whom are on the task force, are likely to be “heavily involved” in the matches at Hazeltine.
Meanwhile, Love is well-liked by his peers and put his team in 2012 in great position to win until the Europeans staged their amazing comeback in what’s touted as the “Miracle at Medinah.” Heading into Sunday singles in 2012, the Americans held a 10-6 advantage over the Europeans, but eventually lost 14 ½ to 13 ½ — which matched the largest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history.
The decision to pick Love comes as a bit of a surprise — though I don’t think it’s the worst idea in the world, as he was well-organized, had a plan, put the guys in groups (kind of like Azinger’s “pod” system), and perhaps to his detriment, took feedback from players into consideration. For example, he sat the red-hot duo of Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson in the Saturday afternoon session, per Mickelson’s request. Love was widely criticized for this decision and allowing Mickelson to dictate when he did and didn’t play.
However, as we saw at the 2014 Ryder Cup last fall when Mickelson blasted Captain Tom Watson’s tactics and leadership style in the U.S. post-loss press conference. Phil was upset with Watson for several reasons, but he was especially disappointed that Watson sat him and Bradley in Saturday afternoon foursomes, despite Mickelson’s multiple attempts at pleading his case.
Love is expected to face off against Darren Clarke, who will likely be named the 2016 European Ryder Cup captain.
The Americans have lost eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups, including six of the past seven. As I mentioned before, Azinger’s victory in 2008 was the only time the Americans have won the Cup in this century.
Love becomes the eighth man to captain the Ryder Cup more than once, joining Walter Hagen, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Burke, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Burke was the only other captain to get a second shot after losing in his first appearance. So, Love has that going for him!
I haven’t had enough time to completely digest my thoughts on Love returning as the American captain, but I’m not strongly opposed to it. I’m pleased for him that he will get a shot at redemption. Like I said, I don’t think he did a poor job in 2012, but perhaps he will do better with balancing what he believes is best for the team to win and taking feedback from the players.